I recently got tested for sleep apnea. Sleep disorders can be serious, but my overnight stay in a “sleep lab” had a few lighter moments.
My wife, Mary Ellen, helped me lay out the things I should take with me, like extra underwear, a toothbrush, glasses and a good book. She also suggested I take my own pillow, just to make it feel more like home.
When I arrived at the medical building, I took the elevator to the third floor. The office was windowless, and the door was locked, so I rang the buzzer.
“Can I help you?” asked a man’s voice through the intercom.
“Yes, I’m here to go to sleep.” I felt strange saying that, like I had just stumbled drunk into Motel 6.
Stewart came out to greet me and to take me to my room. He asked, “Does your wife say you snore?”
“She has no idea because she sleeps in another room … maybe because I snore.”
“How do you know you snore?”
“I get complaints from the neighbors.”
I opened my suitcase and took out my items.
“I hope I’m not the first patient to bring his own pillow,” I said.
“No, but you are the first man to bring his blankie.”
Stewart attached about 40 electrodes to my head, chest and legs. My doctor wanted to know if I was breathing properly when I slept. Did I have restless legs? Did I toss and turn all night? Check my Facebook page: I was really wired. Even more than usual.
I asked Stewart how people fall asleep with all those attachments. He handed me a remote and said, “This should help.” I tried to turn the TV to the History Channel, which always makes me sleepy. The TV didn’t go on, but the mattress got firmer. It was a remote for the Sleep Number bed.
Stewart’s job was to sit in a nearby room, observe me sleeping for six hours and record all the data. For 30 years, my segments on WISH-TV were only three minutes long and that was more than enough of watching me for most people.
If I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, which happens only 100 percent of the time, I was to wave at the camera and Stewart would come into the room to unhook me. I needed to take the entire box with the attached wires into the bathroom with me. Stewart waited in the hall. Way too much pressure on me! I have enough trouble in Lucas Oil Stadium when six guys are waiting impatiently behind me at the urinal.
The next morning, Stewart said, “It was a pleasure meeting you.” It would have creeped me out if he had said, “It was a pleasure watching you.”